Balochistan decides to abolish Musharraf-era police system
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: The Balochistan government and the top bureaucracy in the province have decided to abolish the police system introduced by former president Pervez Musharraf and return to the centuries-old Levies system.
“The federal as well as the provincial government have now decided to discard the existing police system and reintroduce the Levies force to improve the state of law and order,” a senior official in Balochistan’s Home and Tribal Department said while talking to Daily Times.
Calling Musharraf’s police system “a total disaster” which was “contrary to ground realities in the province” and had “paved the way for lawlessness”, the official said it was accepted unwillingly “because Musharraf used force to get his orders implemented”.
The Balochistan government would get rid of the police system entirely in the next four months, the official told Daily Times.
In the first phase, the official notification of abolishing the police system in the six districts – Sherani, Washuak, Musa Khel, Jhal Magsi, Pishin and Chaghi has already been issued.
“The districts where Levies force would replace the police in the first phase are the ones with fewer law and order problems. Seven more districts will be brought in the control of Levies in June, which would be followed by eight districts in July and nine districts in August,” said the official.
During the transition process, the federal Levies – controlled by the ministry of State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) – that has only 3,500 personnel, would assist in maintaining law and order.
The Police Department would be asked to relinquish all powers during the transitional phase and hand over the official assets – buildings, vehicles and weapons – to the Levies.
“The government is deliberating on whether to extend the control of the police to more than five percent area of the province, as it was formerly responsible to look after the urban parts of the districts only,” the official said.
Two committees have been constituted to curtail the powers of the police and empower the Levies. Headed by Balochistan’s chief secretary and the provincial secretary of Services and General Administration (S&GAD), these two committees will review the existing Rules of Business in the current Police Ordinance of 2000.
The officials in the Police Department are seeing these developments with anguish and disbelief. Sources said that many officials in the police, who were granted promotions during the conversion of the Levies force into police, were planning to challenge the official decision in court.
“The previous government promoted several junior officers to impressive positions when it lacked the required qualified personnel but still insisted to hastily carrying on with the conversion,” said senior security analyst Shahzada Zulfiqar, “Sub-inspectors were promoted to the rank of superintend of police, and the deputy superintends of police were upgraded as acting deputy inspectors general.”
The analyst said the move would fulfil a demand by the opposition parties who may support the government in the conversion process.